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1 New Jersey Nets A bullish center in a finesse offense? A change for the better

Oct. 27, 2003
Oct. 27, 2003

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Oct. 27, 2003

NBA Preview 2003-04
NBA Preview 2003-04: Scouting Reports
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1 New Jersey Nets A bullish center in a finesse offense? A change for the better

They don't seem like the most natural fit: free-agent signee
Alonzo Mourning and the Princeton offense. Mourning is a 6'10"
back-to-the-basket post man who in 10 NBA seasons has shown all
the finesse of a bulldozer. New Jersey's everybody-gets-a-touch
system, on the other hand, requires big men to handle the ball,
make pinpoint passes and perform dribble handoffs.

This is an article from the Oct. 27, 2003 issue Original Layout

The solution? Call it Camp Zo. A month before the rest of the
Nets showed up for preseason training, Mourning began reporting
at 11 every weekday morning. After an hour of workouts he would
join coach Byron Scott and his assistants for 45 minutes of
instruction in the offense. "It made all the difference," says
Scott. "He would have been a month behind, but he came in every
day and made a lot of progress."

Mourning, 33, doesn't feel quite acclimated yet. "I'm picking it
up slow," he says. "I'm not accustomed to handling the ball this
much. I've got to read the cuts more, and that dictates my
movement." Mourning says he hasn't touched the ball this much so
far from the basket since grade school. On top of that, he's
quickly learning about--and appreciating--playing with
compulsively unselfish point guard Jason Kidd. "You've got to be
ready because he'll hit you with the ball at any moment," says
Mourning, shaking his head. "I have to be prepared at all times."

The most important adjustment, of course, will involve Mourning's
body. He missed all of last season because of focal
glomerulosclerosis, a kidney disease, and says he spent the
summer working on his endurance. Entering the season, he was a
rock-solid 259 pounds, though he expects his weight to drop as
the season progresses. "I feel good," he says. "Whatever this
team needs from me, I'll do it." --C.B.

COLOR PHOTO: JESSE D. GARRABRANT/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES Alonzo MourningCOLOR PHOTO: MANNY MILLAN (KIDD) DEEP DISH Kidd serves up a satisfying fast break, but the Nets are less savory in the half-court.

ENEMY LINES
an opposing team's scout sizes up the Nets

"Alonzo Mourning gives them a scoring option in the half-court
offense, which was their big weakness in the Finals whenever the
Spurs shut down the running game. His health is going to be in
question after he's missed essentially two of the last three
seasons with kidney disease, but he looked very strong during the
preseason. If he's at the top of his game in the playoffs,
Mourning's scoring, shot blocking and rebounding will allow them
to play at a slower playoff tempo and match up with the big teams
in the West.... The other thing Mourning will do is demand a
double team, which means Richard Jefferson has to hit jump shots
because he's the man who will be left open. You couldn't ask for
a better athlete running the floor for Jason Kidd in the
transition game than Jefferson, but if they want to win a
championship, they need to improve from the perimeter.... Kenyon
Martin is looking for a new contract. Offensively he is similar
to Jefferson: scores on the break, but not very dangerous in the
half-court. Martin's range is from 15 feet in, and he shot 65.3
percent from the foul line last year--skills that don't warrant a
max deal. I don't see his contract becoming an issue, though;
Mourning and Kidd won't let that happen. Besides, Martin is
selling himself as a guy who plays hard, so if he wants the
money, he has to continue being aggressive.... First-round pick
Zoran Planinic from Bosnia and Herzegovina will give the team the
supporting point guard it needs; Kidd is 30, and the Nets have to
develop a backup to trim his minutes over the next few years. A
lot of people were saying that Tony Parker outplayed Kidd in the
Finals, but the big difference was that Parker had Tim Duncan to
make him look better and Kidd had no one else to turn to. The
Nets were in the Finals only because Kidd raised them to that
level."

FAST FACT
Jason Kidd led the Nets with a career-high 18.7 points per game,
the first time in nine NBA seasons that he was tops on his team
in scoring.

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP with 2002-03 statistics

Record: 49-33 (2nd in East)
Points scored: 95.4 (14th in NBA)
Points allowed: 90.1 (2nd)
Coach: Byron Scott
(fourth season with Nets)

ALONZO MOURNING+[1]

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG
C 186 15.7 8.4 1.2

BPG SPG FG% FT%
2.48 0.36 51.6 65.7

RICHARD JEFFERSON

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG
SF 52 15.5 6.4 2.5

BPG SPG FG% FT%
0.55 1.00 50.1 74.3

JASON KIDD

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG
PG 11 18.7 6.3 8.9

SPG FG% 3FG% FT%
2.24 41.4 34.1 84.1

KERRY KITTLES

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG
SG 105 13.0 3.9 2.6

SPG FG% 3FG% FT%
1.55 46.7 35.6 78.5

KENYON MARTIN

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG
PF 41 16.7 8.3 2.4

BPG SPG FG% FT%
0.91 1.27 47.0 65.3

BENCH PVR* 2002-03 KEY STATS

G LUCIOUS
HARRIS 188 10.3 ppg 3.0 rpg 2.0 apg 0.69 spg 41.3 FG%
F RODNEY
ROGERS 205 7.0 ppg 3.9 rpg 0.73 spg 40.2 FG% 33.3 3FG%
G-F[1]ZORAN
PLANINIC (R)242 7.3 ppg 1.8 rpg 2.2 apg 47.5 FG% 35.3 3FG%
C-F AARON
WILLIAMS 252 6.2 ppg 4.1 rpg 0.70 bpg 45.3 FG% 78.5 FT%
C JASON
COLLINS 260 5.7 ppg 4.5 rpg 0.54 bpg 0.58 spg 41.4 FG%

NEW ACQUISITION
(R) Rookie (Croatian League statistics)
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 94)
+2001-02 statistics